The community I personally perceive most clearly is as a Chinese international student. As an international student who has been living in the United States for over 6 years. Different single stories about my community are repeated by different people, depend on where the people come from. People from China and people from the U.S. will have different perceptions of my community.
Everytime When I talk to my friends who study in China, I find that the biggest misconception they have about international students is that they feel that there is very little competitive pressure on international students. They think that international students can easily get enrolled to a good American university and then they can easily get their diploma. This is the most common misconception I hear. They don’t understand how much we work to get good grades and stay up late every night to write papers, do projects, and do research. As an example, it’s close to midnight and I just started writing this writing assignment. (Not because I’m lazy, but because I had a lot of math and economics assignments and quiz to finish this weekend). The biggest misconception the elders have about studying in the US is that they think Chinese people are often discriminated against in the US. But my own personal experience and that of my friends is that at least in LA, we don’t feel too much malice, and LA is actually a very tolerant city. And because of the large amount of Chinese community in California, I think living in Los Angeles is sometimes no different from living in China.
The biggest misconception I see on American Websites about Chinese students is that they think all Chinese students are good at math and they are good at calculating and programming. But honestly, as an international student majoring in Economics/Mathematics, I don’t like math and I’m not good at calculating, and I need to rely on a calculator a lot of the time. Also, there are many people who think that Chinese students are rich and they come to the US not to study but to spend their parents’ money to live a life of paper and money. I admit that these stories do exist, but only among a small percentage of people. Most international students are sent here to study with their parents’ hard-earned money, and many of them think of ways to save money for their parents. This is what I find most interesting because these are two of the most common single stories I’ve heard, but they contradict each other.